An article in the Wall Street Journal this week caught my attention (“Top Fund Managers Want Better HR.”) The story discusses how large funds are beginning to engage boards and senior managers about what they are doing to effectively manage their human resources, an interesting change. When did you last see a line item for employee development/training in an annual report?
Put these moves in the context of a declining unemployment rate (approximately 5.8% one year ago versus 5.3% now). The labor market does appear to be getting tighter. I hear it from our clients because they increasingly complain about how hard it is to fill many positions in their companies. Unless the economy takes a turn for the worse, which hopefully it will not happen, the job market is likely to continue to tighten in many industries.
What is a manager to do? I have several suggestions:
- Find out what is on the minds of your employees. If you have not done a survey of employees, do it. You can learn a lot about how they view the work environment and, most importantly, how the work environment could be improved. Perhaps the most important thing to do is to (1) share key findings and (2) be prepared to act on those findings. It is bad enough to not share key findings but it is even worse if you fail to act on them.
- Stop the hemorrhaging of good employees who choose to leave your company. One of our clients has begun a project to interview each employee who chooses to quit. They want to know why they left and what could have been done to keep them from leaving. They are learning much about the root causes behind why good employees choose to leave. Not surprisingly, it is more often about their manager than anything else.
- Revisit your hiring practices. This is likely to be harder to do because as the labor market tightens the pressure will be to hire “bodies” with less regard to hiring the right ones. One of the key things we have learned from many years of customer loyalty research is that attitude is far more important than aptitude. The resume of the person with the stellar academic and experience background may not be the right person unless they bring the right attitude to the job!
We are not yet fully feeling the impact of a tighter labor market. The increasing number of comments I hear about the difficulty in finding talent suggests things are changing. Think about what you can do now. Now is the time to act!
I would like to hear what your company is doing to attract and retain the best people possible. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.